Roman Catholicism in the United States: A Thematic History

By Margaret M. McGuinness; James T. Fisher | Go to book overview

THIRTEEN
The Resurrection Project of Mexican Catholic Chicago:
Spiritual Activism and Liberating Praxis

Karen Mary Davalos

This essay traces the formation and activism of the Resurrection Project/El Proyecto Resurrección, a community development organization that predominantly builds and secures housing for Latino residents, and locates the organization within the historical context of mexicano Catholicism in Chicago.1 Focusing on the organization’s first fifteen years, 1990–2005, and inaugural efforts in Pilsen (in that period, the most densely populated mexicano community of Chicago), it uses historical archives, oral history interviews, and ethnographic material to view the programs for housing, community development, and leadership as a strategy to create a life of dignity, as revelation, and as an expression of “the faith of the people.”2 This research investigates a liberating faith-based embodiment of Catholicism among Mexican Chicago. Moreover, it argues that the framework of “spiritual activism” helps to illuminate the organization’s two campaigns—the building of housing and the formation of a communal consciousness—as profound integration of lived experience, faith and culture.3

The Resurrection Project/El Proyecto Resurrección is a neighborhood development corporation whose mission has much in common with Chicana/o social movements, faithbased community organizing, and Catholic activism in the United States.4 Orlando Espín’s observations about Latina/o faith as located in human experience, as well as the rejection of any attempt to disconnect faith from the lived realities of Latina/os, is appropriate for this case study of Mexican Catholic Chicago.5 Building on his observation, this article traces the experience of oppression, specifically the unequal structures of society that produce poverty, inadequate education, political powerlessness, and unstable and

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